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The Umbrella Academy: Meet the Family

Marcus (Sparrow Number One): “You shouldn't have attacked us in our own house. Look, this isn't personal, but we're the only superhero game in town. We have this place under complete control. But if your people start taking shots at us, it will give the sheep ideas.”

The Umbrella siblings return to 2019 only to discover that things are not exactly as they left them.

Season Three restarts everything again, with the voice of Pogo narrating. Instead of a swimming pool in Russia, as was the open of Season One, we are in South Korea, and as in the first season, a baby is suddenly born to a flirty couple. On public transportation. This must be the birth of Ben, who in Season Three is alive instead of being a ghost.

Only sixteen babies were born this way in this time, but again, Hargreeves takes in seven, who he calls Sparrows.

Our Umbrellas show up at the Academy, which they think is their house, only to be told by the Sparrows that it isn’t. And then, when they are supposed to start fighting, instead they start dancing – both Umbrellas and Sparrows. The dance sequence is delightful – Tom Hopper, despite being a giant, is as nimble as can be – especially when we’re expecting a slugfest. Well, we get the slugfest. It turns out the dance scene was really just a hallucination provoked by the venom of Jayme (Sparrow Six). But the dance scene was so nice. Fight scenes are a dime a dozen; dance scenes are rare, and most of the actors were capable.

The battle lets the episode showcase the various talents of the Sparrows. Marcus (Sparrow One) appears to be super strong, another fine physical specimen, reminding us of Luther (Umbrella One) before he was combined with simian DNA. Ben (Sparrow Two) has tentacles as he did in the Umbrella world. Fei (Sparrow Three) has ravens coming out of her back and serving as eyes (she’s otherwise blind). This lets her see what others cannot. If you hit Sparrow Four (Alphonso), you suffer the injury, not him. Sloane (Sparrow Five) can turn off the gravity for herself and for anyone else. It’s hard to strike a blow when you have no purchase! Sparrow Six we have already mentioned, and Sparrow Seven is Christopher, a floating cube. I wish we had his back story.

The Umbrellas lose (mostly; near the end, Vanya strikes a powerful blow) and leave what they considered their home. After some discussion, Klaus, who knows how to survive when down and out, shepherds everyone to the Hotel Obsidian.

Given the care that is put into the Hotel Obsidian, we can tell this location is going to be as important as the Umbrella / Sparrow Academy. The guy running the place is played by Julian Richings, who was the most cadaverous Death in Supernatural. He’s mostly got a very laissez-faire attitude towards everything and everyone, which is really fun. You’re expecting him to be difficult, but he isn’t! I do like how The Umbrella Academy defies story expectations.

Diego wants to plan a fight, but the others beg for a break. Not only did they sort of lose the fight with the Sparrows, but they were also fighting for all of Season Two and especially in the finale. It feels like the fight at Sissy’s barn took place either a year ago or 56 years ago – but given their time travel, that showdown was just hours before. They convince themselves that the Sparrows must be just as tired.

The episode takes us to the Sparrows, who are all on high-tech treadmills except for cube Christopher. This is not the old-fashioned Umbrella Academy of the first season. The Sparrows do not seem tired or worn out. In fact, they’re a bit bored, because they run their city (they even have influence over Sir Reggie). Marcus thinks they could use a challenge, and points out that at least one of the Umbrellas has real power (he means Vanya). He and Vanya meet to arrange the exchange of a briefcase.

Lila shows up in Lila fashion, forcing Diego to notice her by throwing a knife at him. Then she introduces him to a 12 year old boy she claims is his son.

Robot Grace has discovered a ball of light in the basement. She has decided it’s God and it certainly seems both powerful and dangerous. Marcus – who is searching for the briefcase he promised Vanya – touches the glowing ball of light in basement and is pulled into it. Is this a real death or not?

Title musings. “Meet the Family” is similar to many other titles out in movieland, such as Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, when family meetings are taking place (at least I assume so; I have watched neither). And in this Umbrella episode there are certainly many family meetings. Not only do we meet the family of Sparrows, the Umbrellas and the Sparrows are meeting with each other. There’s a special meeting between Vanya and Marcus. There are interactions between Klaus and Reggie. Lila shows up and tells Diego he’s a father. And then there’s this mysterious older man (Lester Pocket) with headphones. Is he family too? A good enough title, covering many aspects of the episode.

Bits and pieces

The birth of Ben in the metro must be making those Korean kids who just kissed wonder if their sex ed classes were completely messed up.

Gosh, Marcus, Sparrow One, is easy on the eyes.

In the Hotel Obsidian we see other guests wandering about, who appear to be from different points in time. I think one looks like Teddy Roosevelt – and Klaus did say Roosevelt – but I haven’t been able to identify the others. If anyone reading this has any ideas, please share!

Grace the robot reminds me of Six from Battlestar Galactica. Similar expression, especially when they seem to be worshipping God.

I’m rewatching season three in order to do the reviews, but I haven’t quite figured out why they’re sparrows. Umbrellas were because Hargreeves, when he came to America, invested in an umbrella factory.


Diego as he’s clinging to cube Christopher and hitting it: Who’s your daddy? I’m your daddy.
The words are relevant given Lila’s introduction of Diego to his (alleged) son.

Reggie (who remembers the Umbrellas from their encounters in 1963): Simple. Once your oafish tribe showed me what a poor job I did with my first selections, I adopted them instead of you.

Luther: I've just never had my ass handed to me like that before. It's like... Here you go. It's your ass.

Klaus: Oh, Hotel Obsidian. I missed you, you slutty old dame. Absorb her. Absorb her into your bosom. You know, 'cause back in her heyday, she played host to world leaders. Roosevelt, Gandhi, Stalin, Gorbachev, Castro, King Olaf of Norway, one of the Kim Jongs, Tito, Dalai Lama, Elvis, and not one but two Kardashians, allegedly.

Marcus: I mean, we haven't faced decent enemies for years. This could be good for us. Good for business. But only if we're smart with our next move.

Marcus: So if you came here to beg me not to make the next move...
Vanya: I came here to tell you mine. Tomorrow morning, when your busloads of fans show up, I'm gonna be there on your front lawn, and I'm gonna call you out for a fight, just you and me. Why? Because your team is good. Better than mine, maybe. But I don't think you're better than me, Marcus. I ended the world twice. And you? You're just meat in spandex. And I bet you don't want the whole world watching when I prove that to you.

Lila: I'm not here to stick around. I'm just doing a quick little drop-off.
Diego: Of what?
Lila: Our son. Diego, meet Stan.

Grace: No, Marcus. It's a message from God. Listen.

Overall rating

I had a difficult time figuring out what I thought of this. The first time I watched it, it seemed repetitive (except for the dance scene, which was a hoot). The second time I watched it, I enjoyed it much more – enjoying how it continues to defy expectations. And in my writing it up, I enjoyed it even more. Three and a half out of four shirts tossed by Marcus to his adoring fans.

Victoria Grossack loves math, birds, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.


  1. What makes this series so interesting is how freaking weird it is. The two families dueling with the Footloose dance was so unexpected and incredibly funny.

    Luther looks different. I think they made him less over-the-top muscular. His torso used to look over the top bizarre, but now he looks more like an extreme bodybuilder, more like a real person. I like it.

  2. Well, the dance was a hallucination - Diego's hallucination, which says something odd about him - but it was great. And yes, they are letting Tom Hopper shine this season.

  3. I know it was an hallucination, but it was still a joy to watch. They must have rehearsed it for days.

  4. They rehearsed a lot longer than that! I watched a behind-the-scenes video about it on YouTube. They started learning it via Zoom while quarantining before they finally got together in the studio. It was definitely a fun way to start the season. I found myself rewatching that dance sequence a couple times.

  5. Katerina, I assume you mean this one by Netflix? Thanks for mentioning it. Loved it.


  6. One thing no one has mentioned yet is that this episode hat-tips traditional horror films by having the Black guy die early. Assuming he's dead that is. I kept expecting for a blonde to wander off into the forest after dark alone.


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